Getting Past Procurement and Having Fun Doing It

Mike Weinberg is pissed off. And if you work in sales, you should be, too.

And that very righteous anger is directed at people in his own industry — the sales coaching and training business. In particular, it’s directed at people holding themselves out as sales experts preaching that “everything in sales has changed. . . nothing that used to work in sales works anymore. . . picking up the phone is for dinosaurs. . .”

That anger prompted Mike to write his most recent book Sales Truth: Debunk the Myths. Apply Powerful Principles. Win More New Sales.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard or learned so much from a single podcast interview. And if you work in sales, you should stop reading this now and listen to my conversation with Mike above. It’s a lot more fun and thorough than the tiny snipped you’re going to get below.

But just so you can have something to read in the bathroom, below is a short excerpt from his book you’re going to love. It debunks the myth that you’ll win more deals by scoring obedience points with the procurement department.

Specifically, it’s about how he finally broke free of the trap of having to deal with the Procurement Department at all. And it’s as liberating as it is genius. I tried it myself and it worked! (You can hear that story in our conversation at the 14-minute mark.)

Excerpt from Chapter 13 of Sales Truth, by Mike Weinberg

I reached my tolerance limit (and finally snapped) after yet one more procurement weenie sent over a master services agreement (MSA), along with the threat that in order to do business with their company, I must agree to the entire thirty-two-page document printed in eight-point legalese.

Not only couldn’t I understand most of the clauses, I was perplexed as to why there were so many sections in the document that seemed more appropriate for a contract software developer or a raw materials manufacturer. I also wondered why I should invest (waste) hours plowing through what felt like an irrelevant agreement in order to conduct a half-day sales workshop for a company that had already decided to use me.

In abject frustration and righteous anger, I tossed that mostly unintelligible thirty-two-page MSA in my recycle bin and called the procurement weenie who had just informed me via email that going forward, she owned the relationship with my firm and that she would be my main contact. As pleasantly as I could fake it, I told this twenty-six-year-old certified procurement analyst (with a very inflated view of her role) that I was tapping out. I had neither the energy nor the desire to spend any more time trying to decipher her nonsensical agreement and I was done.

Then I said two more things. I let her know that she was not my contact at her company, the senior vice president of sales was. And then with a bit of attitude and glee, I asked the procurement woman to please inform the sales executive that I would not be executing the agreement and that I wished her well with the big meeting.

I immediately felt better even though I figured we’d end up losing that deal. Although I was sorry about hanging the SVP of sales out to dry because she was excited about the event we were putting together, the sheer relief getting to tell the procurement woman to pound sand more than made up for the money I was forgoing by walking away. It was quite empowering.

More than that, it was an eye-opening lesson when later that afternoon the sales executive called apologizing for my terrible experience and their overbearing procurement processes. Then she asked if I would consider still doing their event if I didn’t have to deal with procurement or sign their goofy MSA. At that very moment, I became a much better sales coach and consultant, and my life and my business changed.

For more sales truths like this, check out Mike’s new book.

You can find out more about Mike and his sales coaching business at mikeweinberg.com.

Click these links to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or Podbean.

Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author.

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